Review Comment

First Year Writing: The Americas

December 30, 2019

Mehta, Linn Silver_nugget
First Year Writing: The Americas and [FYW-BC1212] First-Year Writing: The Americas

Where do I start? Professor Mehta is quite the controversial figure. Some dislike her, some are ambivalent, and others love her. Her comments, although well-meaning, are for sure occasionally eyebrow-raising and has caused many an eye-roll (and a lot of stifled laughter). Our class was entirely discussion-based - every class is based on a reading or two, and although she initiated the conversation with some guiding questions, the discourse was pretty free-range and went in any direction the students wanted it to. In that sense, the discussion can be very thoughtful and provoking, but if none of us read the readings or if nobody was really interested in the topic at hand, it would not be so fruitful and can even become very shallow.

Writing for Professor Mehta is a double-edged sword - on one hand, she is awesome with allowing multiple drafts and many feedback sessions as long as you are prompt and give her adequate time; however, although she gives a lot of freedom regarding topic choice, she does drop hints about what direction she wants the paper to take (and the general consensus among all of us in her class is that she isn't satisfied with "independent choices" unless she agrees with them; so sometimes you'll have to bend your narrative to fit her thinking) which honestly isn't that bad - it just gets on your nerves sometimes. This is a class that requires you to do what you're told and if you do you'll be just fine. It also exposes you to a lot of South American literature that you wouldn't be interacting with otherwise.

Although it was a pain sometimes and gave me headaches, Professor Mehta has good intentions and truly wants every one of us to do well. This is beside the point but at the end of the semester, she invited all of us to her place to have Indian food and dessert, which was super heart-warming.

Workload:

3 mid-length essays (can go anywhere from 1500 words to 2000+ depending on your topic of choice) and 1 final research paper (2500+/8+ pages double spaced). 2 in-class oral "provocations"/discussions.

June 06, 2019

Watson, Alexandra
First Year Writing: The Americas

It seems like Watson has taken into account some of the feedback she’s gotten on being a harsh grader, because this semester the grading seemed pretty generous to me - when I worked hard on the first draft, scheduled a conference, went at least once to student hours, and did the revision activities in class, I got an A or A-. When I slacked or turned in an incomplete first draft, and didn’t put enough time into revision, I got a B. It might seem like a lot of work for one essay, but there are only 3 essays total across the semester, and the whole course is dedicated to those 3 essays. Class discussion was engaging, especially when students were into the text (like Jazz by Toni Morrison). I got lucky because I had a relatively small section and we had a good vibe as a group, so that made the discussions more interesting because everyone chimed in. I think Watson did a good job creating a classroom environment where everyone felt comfortable speaking, but again, that could be my class group too. A lot of people complain about their FYW classes - check out the reviews of other professors as well - probably because they’re coming from high schools where they’re used to doing minimal work and getting As (or even doing that in other classes at Barnard). You have to really work for an A in this class. That said, I got a higher grade for the semester than I anticipated because of Watson’s extra credit policy and her generous credit for participation.

Workload:

3 essays, 3-4 HW exercises leading up to each essay, plus first drafts.

December 29, 2018

Rosenthal, Jennifer Silver_nugget
First Year Writing: The Americas

Jennifer Rosenthal was not my top choice for FY Writing, but I enjoyed this class anyway. She does a really great job of helping you get to know your classmates, which was a little awkward and forced at first but eventually, I was saying hi to every girl in my class when I saw them. She also invited us to her apartment twice, which was very sweet. The class was my easiest in first semester--the readings are fairly short and not difficult. This also meant that it wasn't an especially intellectual class--I don't think I gained THAT much from it--but it was a nice transition into college (I took it first semester).

Workload:

Light. The readings are fairly short, and occasionally there will be some short writing to prepare for class, but very minimal. 3 papers that get consecutively longer, but she lets you revise them and there was always enough time to write them.

July 04, 2018

Watson, Alexandra
First Year Writing: The Americas

I had First Year Writing: The Americas with Watson. While all of the other students' experiences with Watson are valid, I had a more positive experience with her. I came to Barnard having little to no writing skills under my belt from high school, so Watson basically taught me most everything I know about writing college level papers. She completely changed my view of the writing process. Before, I thought the writing process was writing the essay and then checking it once for grammar mistakes. Watson taught me that revising an essay may be completely transforming original ideas to make room for more mature, coherent claims. In her class I didn't stop editing an essay until I thought it was perfect, and I have never done that in my life simply because I was too lazy. I now have the type of work ethic that not only transferred into my other classes but into my lifestyle. Also the books we read in class were absolutely fascinating and Watson always offered new ways to interpret the books which really opened my eyes to what literature can be. While not everyone liked her, my writing skills vastly improved because of her brilliance and I will be forever grateful to her.

Workload:

3 papers. Worth a lot so put time and effort into them!

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section